I'm very happen to have found an EQ2 guild 'family' again in Revelry and Honor. It's been a renaissance period for me and I find that I have enjoyed the game now almost as much as I did back at launch. Almost entirely due to the good group of people playing in RnH.
Jose dinged 80 (first time ever to cap in EQ2) and got his fabled epic. Yay!
It was all good times and I quickly developed a routine of logging on later in the evening and getting a group or joining one of the scheduled raids. I was collecting some great legendary gear. Things were rosie in game land.
That is when I dinged Level 1 dad.
Things changed quickly and drastically. My focus shifted from gaming, to wondering if me and my wife were ever going to sleep again, and finally settled on trying to decipher the various noises that erupt out of our little guy. For example, grunting happens frequently and could indicate a need for a diaper change, uncomfortable position, gas, going poops, gas, or just generally being pissed off. Oh yeah, it might also indicate gas.
Being a dad has been awesome! I have laughed so hard at some of the silliest things. The expressions on my son's face are priceless. He seems to switch emotions from amazement, to bewilderment, to a scrunched up grunting face, to yawning sleepily. All in the course of 10 seconds. I also have someone else to blame the gas on now besides the dog. He has been a willing side kick all the way. We have gone on adventures to the Farmer's Market, gone Christmas tree shopping, but he seems to enjoy playing 'how-much-can-I-pee-on-dad-before-he-gets-angry-with-me' the most. I have experienced some of the richest moments of my life with him and he is only a few months old.
So after a couple of weeks of very little game time I began to get worried that I was going to fall behind my friends and guildmates. I was concerned that I would be left in the dust again and would have difficulty grouping when time did become available. I have found a couple of things that have helped me get in some game time while avoiding wife/baby aggro. Here they are:
1) Family First. Turn of that game and take care of your kids. Your wife needs you, your husband needs you and most importantly your baby needs you. If your guildies and online friends really care about you, they will understand your need to step away for a few hours, weeks or months. When the time is right...and you will know when that is, you can indulge in some gaming. But reinforce what you should have already established.... Family is numero uno!
2) Establish a routine in your household. It is key to working in some play time and will pay big dividends moving forward. Babies appreciate schedules. You might not thinks so, but they can sense when feeding, bath and nap time happen. The regular routine will help them settle faster. Ours works something like this:
- 7 pm - Walk the dog with mom and baby. Mom and dad can talk. Baby gets some fresh air. Dog is just happy to be outside and sniffing signposts.
- 7:45 pm - Bathtime. Work as a team for fast bathing. Mom/dad will appreciate the help and your kids will too!
- 8:00 pm - PJ time and feeding. Don't forget to burp to avoid aforementioned gas.
- 8:30 pm - Crib Time. Keep your fingers crossed they fall asleep for an hour.
If the little guy goes down well I find that I can now enjoy some play time from 8:30 or 8:45 to 10:30 or 11 when he eats next.Additionally, my wife and I have worked a deal where on Sundays and Tuesdays (raid nights) she covers long enough for me to be in raid. This means that if there is some fussing or crying she is on call for it. The rest of the week, I am there with her trying to calm the little guy down. In turn, she leaves the baby with me in the house on Saturday so she can shop, go see a movie or hang with her sisters. this gives us both some free time away from the baby to recharge our batteries.
3) Adjust your play style to avoid LONG blocks of play time. You will most likely be interrupted. Repeatedly. Don't plan on jumping into a pickup group for a long run through Najeena's or Chardok. Now is the time to crack open that quest journal and finish up long forgotten solo quests. Go finish up some Lore and Legend, bang out that level 50 Heritage Quest you forgot about. Do things that are solo oriented and not large time commitments for the first few weeks. This is a compromise. You can still play, but you will not be able to put in long hours like you used to. Eventually, the baby sleeps for longer periods which will allow you longer play sessions if you desire. You should still be prepared for interruptions though.
4) Take advantage of naps and sleep time to do things you want to do. Game, clean the house, watch tv etc. One of the most valuable commodities you will have is the time when the baby is sleeping. Be sure to ask your spouse if there is anything that needs to be done before you burn all your free time playing.
5) Invest in a Baby Bjorn. The little guy can nap with you while you play or do other stuff around the house.
5) Never forget that your duty as a parent comes first and foremost. Communicate with your partner and help them as much as possible and you my find they will be happy to let you 'sneak' in a few hours gaming when time is available.
Now, this all sounds good on paper and here is where I will let you in on the biggest secret. Babies are extremely unpredictable. Just because you have a plan doesn't mean that they are on the same page with you. The biggest adjustment you will have to make is the lack of control over anything. Your baby might sleep great for 10 nights straight. The minute you plan on doing something during that time something unexpected will happen. Be flexible and go with the flow and you will find that you can still fit in some playtime here and there and be a successful parent.
I'm hoping to make it to level 2 this week after a solid session of grinding diapers...